A Pen for Every Occasion

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 When I met the one, I just knew. We were meant for each other.

She was silky smooth and faultless, my hand fitted her curves perfectly. I was a better person when she was around. Her name was Joy. InkJoy!

Because one day a pen will come along that a writer just falls in love with. And you can tell a writer designed the InkJoy because of the smooth effortless ink flow and the curvaceous, comfortable body to fit the hand.

But soon it became almost obsessive the way I couldn’t write properly unless I was using my special pen! I had backup ones in case it ran out of ink mid stream. I would get stressed without my other half, the half that made me a whole writer, not just a thinker. And heaven forbid if I was forced to have an affair with another, inadequate one, say, at the bank.

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The Oxford Comma

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Here is a little something I wanted to share with you all.  You know you are a nerd when you think that grammar is interesting.

The other day at my writers group, the issue of the oxford comma was raised.  The Oxford Comma or Serial Comma as you may know it, is a point of contention among editors.  Amanda, another member of the group showed us this video – which was wonderful. Continue reading

The 5 x 5 Rules of Writing

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For those of you who could not get to the National Writers Conference this weekend, or were not there at 10am, here are five of the five by five rules.

The 5 x 5 Rules of Writing –

‘Our five Festival Ambassadors share the writing advice they wish they had known when they were starting out – in the form of five rules for writing – an inspiring guide for the next time you sit down to write. It’s 5 x 5  with Maxine Beneba Clarke, Hannah Kent, Krissy Kneen, Benjamin Law and Felix Nobis. Hosted by Sam Twyford-Moore.’ Emerging Writers Festival 2014.

My Top Five

Maxine Beneba Clarke

Throw your hat in the ring.‘ Maxine spoke of what can happen when you throw yourself into an award application, grant application or writing project.  ‘You never know what might happen?‘  She encouraged us all to take chances as she spoke of applying for the Victorian Premiers Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript on the very day that entries closed.  ‘See what happens and take chances.‘  She won!

Felix Nobis

Be your own manager – you have a responsibility to be a good manager to yourself.’  Felix reminded us all that no one is going to just give you the information you need.  He pressed the importance of our responsibility to know about the grants, funding and awards that are available to us. ‘Find out who has got the money and how you can get it.’  He spoke of the importance of being informed on a national, state and local level.  In being your own good manager, make sure that the writing part of you ‘Responds directly to the application criteria.  So many applications don’t even meet the application criteria.’

Krissy Kneen

‘Every novel will hit a rough patch… At 20 000 words your novel will start to smell like it’s crawled up your own arse and then come back out again…You’ll want to vomit when you think of it.‘  Krissy humorously spoke of the doubt writers have and how you might start to search for a better / different idea.  ‘I can tell you, those ideas will hit a rough patch also.’  She reminded us that every writer will find themselves struggling with a manuscript at some point, but to push through this.  Krissy spoke of a book being written in the rewriting; saying that is was much easier to work with a (really really really) terrible first draft, than an empty page.

Benjamin Law

‘Get an accountant.’ Benjamin’s very practical advice for Emerging Writers touched on a subject that is not often discussed during writing festivals – Tax.  Benjamin raised our awareness of a Specialist Art Accountant, reminding us to ‘…understand your rights.’  Also discussed during this rule was superannuation and the importance of setting aside a portion of your income for tax and superannuation accounts.  Investigate what you can claim on tax and then actually do it!

Hannah Kent

Don’t wait until you feel ready.’   Start now!  During her five writing ‘rules’ Hannah shared with us some advice on how best to relate to your own doubts.  Hannah told us all to begin as soon as possible, don’t wait for the confidence to start, as it may never happen.   ‘…doubts about writing aren’t going to go away.’   It was wonderful to hear such an informed and honest account about becoming accustomed to feeling the difficulty of writing and about coming to expect it.  ‘Be brave and do it anyway.’

Such a great part of the National Writers Conference.  It is already the afternoon on Saturday and I can still hear people talking about what the 5 x 5 from the Festival Ambassadors.  If you did make it to the National Writers Conference this morning, which were your favourites?

 

 

What is Holding You Back?

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“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”  ― C. JoyBell C.

A Fear of Success.

Have you ever heard of this?  Apparently I have it.  I was sitting around last night doing a funny test online, when I suddenly found out that I have a fear of Success.  The following is my result.

Your Result:

Fear of Success

You’re fairly confident in your abilities, but you balk at the pressure of maintaining success once you have it. You know that your achievements will breed higher expectations, and you worry that you won’t be able to meet them. You may even be experiencing what psychologists call impostor syndrome, the fear that those around you will discover you’re not really as talented or competent as they think. People who fear success often credit their achievements to circumstances rather than to their talent and other assets. The key for these people is to accept responsibility for their accomplishments.

 It turns out a fear of success is more complicated and difficult to cure than a fear of failure.

Being a failure is easy.  When you fail, everyone is nice to you, even if they think you’re stupid.  Failing is comfortable.  Your life will not change in any way if you try something new and fail.  When you fail, everything will stays the same.  Everyone rallies around the person who can’t get his or her shit together.  When you are successful, people watch you, wait for you to trip up, scrutinize your spelling and no one will worry about you.  Successful people essentially get left out of the community circle.  Successful people are the ones who are called upon to help others, give advice, money, information, time, services for free…

I have these ideas about success that I have just made up -Pooof! – From nowhere!  Yes, I defiantly have a fear of Success, as you can see.  I made all of that up.  I don’t know what it is like to be successful and I won’t know until I get over this stupid little fear I have.  I am worried about I know nothing about.  A fear of success is far worse than a fear of failure.

‘Procrastination is the fear of success.’ Chinese fortune cookie

These are the Fears

I will have to out-do my success with more success?  Once you get successful you need to remain that success, right?  Of course – So if this next project works, then I am going to have to come up with another better project after that or I’ll be just like Harper Lee and everyone will think my more famous and more consistently successful friend wrote my dam book for me.

Successful people are exposed, criticized? Successful people are often in the public eye or being recognised for great things they have done.  Successful people are the ones that everyone else wants to bring down.   You have done it yourself.  I have.  I have looked at a successful person and been certain that I would have made a far better outfit choice or I would have stood differently. ‘How did she pick that dress I’m mean really?

Success will transform me into someone else?  My friends wont like me anymore because I will be different.  I am scared of becoming someone else – My partner fell in love with me when I was a very unorganized, slightly alcoholic, Art School student who never finished any paintings.  He loves me for who I am right now – Not who I will be when I am successful…Ekk

When there is any kind of change, there is always a fear of loosing who you are and what you have.  Instead os thinking as a change as a moving away from yourself, try to think of a change as you gaining more of yourself.  Image you are adding onto your personality, your skills, your achievements – not away from who you are.  You will still be the same person, just with new skills.

The truth is that being successful is probably easier than you think – For starters, you will have more money (If you haven’t picked it up already, I am talking about ‘Career Success’ not relationships or family crap)

If you can get by with not much money, as you have been so so long (as a writer I am guessing)  then think of how easy it will become once you start getting paid more or get publishing in heaps of journals.  J.K Rowling said it very well in her interview with Oprah.  Once she became a successful writer, she realised that she could throw money are her writing problems.  It was a relief for her to realise that she did not have to put up with writing at her kitchen table amidst the noise and mess of her home life.

So what can you do?

The Cure to A Fear of Success – Oprah –

Many of my clients find this simple exercise helpful: Think of a recent success—say, a new account that you won. Now make a list of the skills and qualities you drew on to win it—determination, intelligence, creativity, charm.… (If you’re struggling, ask a friend for help; others can often see your assets more clearly than you can.) Make this exercise a habit each time something goes well at work. Once you begin to see your strengths in action every day, you will recognize that you are, in fact, well-equipped to tackle whatever challenges lie ahead.

If none of that works – Just remember that you are only brave when you are doing something that scares the shit out of you.  Life is too short for first world problems …

Naming Characters

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Do you struggle when it comes to naming your characters.  I do.  Well, to be more correct, I did.

This is just a quick post to share my new favourite Scrivener tool.

 The Name Generator

Check it  out.  You can select gender, country of origin, obscurity levels and even ask for a double barrelled last name.  You can select one name, or it can generate 500!  So great.

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Click image to play demo…

I used to use baby name websites – but the problem with that is the names coming up now are not the names used 40 years ago when my characters were born – Tricky – So I would search, ‘Popular boys names in 1973‘ and I only get the top ten!  What can I do with ten?

Scrivener – Self Publishing is Easy

I have just started using Scrivener as my word processing software.

I love it.

I was looking for Software to convert my writing into an Ebook…

I found it when I started to search for software that could format my work into an Ebook available for Kindle and E Readers.  A couple of blogs recommended Scrivener for the formatting process – but what was really interesting is that Scrivener was recommend for drafting, planning your book, storing research and character outlines, saving images and setting writing goals – writing editing proofing and formatting.  It does everything.

I have used it for far more than just converting my writing into an Ebook.

Below I have included a couple of the features of Scrivener –

To give you an idea of how it looks and what it can do.

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Characters – Planning Board

Characters & Casting

Collect all your character profiles in one place.

Using images of real people, you can go through the process of casting your characters and keeping the images with your character’s profiles.

I love using old actors for Casting my Characters as there are lots of pictures of them through every stage of their lives.

Also – actors tend to have lots more photos of themselves in various moods, situations and styles.

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Location Planning Board.

 

Setting & Locations

Locations settings have always been difficult for me, as my novels tend to spand quite a lot of time and in doing so my locations age and change and develop.

Scrivener has a whole location setting to help you with mood boards, images, notes and consistency while writing.

Here is a board that I made for a location I had been struggling to image.  It is a cottage in the forest, that has not been touched or fixed or restored for a long time.

 

 

FORMATTING; Your writing to Ebook –

There are a load of ready made templates in Scrivener including a PhD thesis paper, Short Story formatting and Ebooks.  These templates make it so easy to format and publish everything you write in Scrivener.

There are heaps of tutorials Online about how to format your ebook using Scrivener – Even this one…

5 minute Video Tutorial from the makers of Scrivener – Literature & Lattes.

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 Enjoy!

 

Keeping track of your Plot

For those of you that are following along – however difficult, you will know that I have finished my first draft and am starting to read through it.  Not in an official editing process, but just to check it all makes sense.  It doesn’t!

I have found  so many gaping holes in the plot, character and setting that I don’t know where to begin.  Day turns to night, boys turn into girls and summer is suddenly winter in a heart beat.  How did that house burn burn down and why is it rebuilt in the next scene?

If this is what Anne LaMott meant when she said write a really shitty first draft – then I have nailed it.  Not only is this a shitty first draft – it is actually nonsense, I seem to have composed the sequel to James Joyce’s Ulysses – the one where Buck Mulligan calls Stephen Dealus ‘Ishmael’.

How Can I Keep Track of my Plot?

Plotting and consistency seem to be a weakness of mine.

It has always been something I have struggled with.  To the point where I have not finished a few novels because I have not been able to trawl through the mess I made with their lives.

Perhaps I need to pay someone to design a plot tracking Iphone App!  I need to invent my own system to solve this little problem.  Make something I can put all my character research and plotting into – easy to read.  Portable.  On my computer – easy to change, and study.  I have tried all sorts of ways, and still don’t have a really solid solution.

Keeping it in my head – Has it worked for anyone?

I have tried to keep it all in my head – What a mess.   Just remembering does not work.

It was so difficult to hold the novel in my head that I was weighted down by the details.  This was my first method.  I just kept going forward with the writing every night with about any real regard for where I had been.  It was terrible and I was only 17/18 years old.   Rightly so I never was able to finish that book.  But there is an image of caged butterflies and a memory of a naked girl falling through a church roof that has stayed with me forever.

Writing everything in a note book – I mean five note books.

This was a better approach than the old noggin storage system, but the problem with having it all written down in a note book is that you still have to read the whole darn thing to remember it all. There was no method or order to easily retrieve the information that I needed.  A quick little note to check up with what season it was so I knew what the tides where doing.  How warm the water would be if it was say… Spring.

A Time Line Program – Ok so this one was not all bad.

I just forgot my password to log on and find all my work – Fuck!!

There is a feeling I have that it is not cool in the writing world to be organised – or to plan, of anything.

Are Chapters the key? –   Is that why chapters exist? 

I wrote a short story in a few weeks and it was such a breeze because I could hold it all in my head at once.  It was such a relief to start and finish something in the same house, with the same mindset and have it done…  I don’t know how good it is, but the feeling I have now is worth it.

Now I use Microsoft Excel – It has a promising title.  

How do you keep Track of your plot?

 

That First Week as a Writer

24 September 2012…started looking online to see what information is out there to help me become a writer.  I want the best chance of succeeding at this new job of mine, and I have always been a huge fan of reading and researching and writing lists.  After two undergrad degrees I am a professional student.

I have found soooo many ads for Creative Writing Courses – Lots of Bogs written by writers – Realising that there is so much for me to read.  I have got a lot of work to do.

Found something very interesting after a little while of searching.  Realised that ‘The Emerging Writers Festival’ is coming to Sydney in two weeks.  Thinking about going.  Realise I am not ready for that sort of thing.  Everything happening way to fast.  Need a way to make myself accountable to my promise to become a writer…consider getting a website as a sort of public Writers Diary to help keep me on track. 

26 September 2012…Is this even possible?  Like really?  What am I doing?  Right now I am 26 years old and work full time in a cafe in the Inner West of Sydney.  I didn’t even study creative writing at University! I have tried my hand at a few different creative professions, why do I think that this might work?  Insane.

But I can’t stop writing.  I have been writing for years really…

29th September 2012…

Today I told my lover I was going to become a writer, like from now! Like right now!

It seemed strange to say it out aloud and make it so final.  Up until this moment I have always just talked about writing, enjoying writing, joking about books I could write and asking him really late at night….’Do you think I could ever be a writer – like a real one?’

I had not told him yet because I was worried, not that he would laugh at me and think I was completely ridiculous – But I was worried that he would hold me to it, once I said it outloud.  I didn’t want him to know, because I wanted to still be able to change my mind, or if I kept it to myself then no one would know when I failed.

But that is not what this is about.  The decision to become a writer must feel real.  Every Day.  And you must be able to talk to your partner about your work.

Instead of laughing at me and guessing at how long it would be before I quit, he went online.  In a few moments he had purchased me a new domain name, organised hosting for a blog and paid for one non refundable ticket to The Emerging Writers Festival in a few weeks.

Crap!!

Now I have to get out of working at the cafe that weekend! Shit!

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